Some would consider me a voracious reader, often reading multiple books at once (yes, I'm forging ahead through Les Mis). I'm currently reading another book entitled "Sifted: God's Scandalous Response to Satan's Outrageous Demand" by Rick Lawrence".
The Amazon book description goes like this:
"Discouraged by life’s difficulties—both life-shifting catastrophes and the drip-drip-drip of daily trouble? Dissatisfied with the same old pat answers about God’s role in our hard times? Rick Lawrence offers fresh biblical perspective based on a single Scripture snapshot in Luke 22:31-32. Jesus tells Peter he’s about to be “sifted like wheat”—shaken hard, beaten, and agitated until he practically falls apart. Satan’s going to do it. And Jesus is going to allow it, in the interest of showing Peter who he really is. Lawrence uses the simple agrarian metaphor of sifting as a jumping-off point for a rigorously honest, deeply challenging, yet powerfully comforting exploration of the trials that beat us down, the good God who allows our troubles, and the incredible beauty the process of sifting can reveal in us."
While there are many topics I could discuss from this book, today I'm contemplating what the book has to say as it relates to Satan's relationship with God and how it impacts us.
The New Testament documents 21 separate conversations that go on between Jesus and Satan (or his demons). It's incredulous for us to realize that "God is in regular conversation with Satan". Following that line of thinking, we all have some kind of relationship with Satan, whether we've realize it or not, or even feel comfortable admitting it. 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Ever in a situation which causes you to look over your shoulder like someone or something is stalking you?
Lawrence reminds us of the story of Job, and how God and Satan were just hanging out together one day. Satan reminds God that he's been out roaming the earth, and God brings up Job. Like a proud parent God asks Satan, "have you considered my servant Job?" (Job 1:8a). Satan brow beats God a little bit until he consents to let Satan give Job "his best shot" - with the only rule - "do not lay a finger on Job".
Most of you know the story. Most of you have in some part lived the story of Job. No one is left untouched by difficult situations or circumstances in this life. And many of us look to heaven and breathe, "why me?" "why now?" I'll save that topic for another article. Right now I want us to wrap our heads around the fact that Satan and God and/or Jesus talk to each other.
First, we know "he [God] comes to us in mercy and put enmity between us and the serpent." (Genesis 3:13). Enmity means "the state or feeling of being actively opposed or hostile to someone or something." Most of us feel that enmity because somewhere along the way we learned to distrust, be repulsed, despise Satan and run like crazy if we see him.
Yet I find that every generation weakens its beliefs about Satan. He's rarely preached about anymore. Satan as a topic has been ignored or watered down so that many no longer even believe he really exists or only believe in him "in theory". And therein lies the crux of it. If you don't believe Satan is still "roaming the earth" you are deluding yourself and are at the greatest risk to fall prey to him.
What makes Satan so dangerous is he knows our weaknesses, he knows what tempts us. Acknowledging that Jesus has a relationship with Satan, which of Satan's schemes would Satan be working against you? You better know your most difficult temptations, because you can be sure Satan does and he won't attack blatantly, he's too crafty.
The great English preacher Charles Spurgeon states it this way,
"The devil is the greatest of all fools. He has more knowledge but less wisdom than any other creature, he is more subtle than all the beasts of the field, but it is well called subtlety, not wisdom."
What then is our defense?
Here are some suggestions -
- have such a close relationship with God that you have more chance to recognize Satan's subtleties
- remember the Lord's Prayer and ask God to "lead you not into temptation", but should temptation come, remind God to knock you on your head so you see his way of escape which He promises in 1 Corinthians 10:13.
12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
- Read the all 14 verses of 1 Peter, for he tells us how to live on the offensive against Satan. After all, these may be the temptations Satan uses against us the most, because we are vulnerable to pride, self-reliance, and lack of true focus.
- Humble yourselves
- Give God all your anxieties and worries
- Remain alert.
The good news is, we really can withstand what the devil uses to poke us into wrong doing or wrong thinking. Remember Job? After everything that he lost, everything he endured we're told, "In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing." Job 1:22 And in Job 42:12 we learn "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the former part."
Hang in there, God is always within hearing distance of our distress calls.
- What do you think about the idea that Jesus/God and Satan talk to one another? Maybe even discussing you, the way they did Job?
- Have you ever been tempted and seen the "way of escape" but ignored it? What will you do if you're placed in a similar situation again?
- What do you feel are the greatest temptations Christian's in today's world face?